Multi-scoped infrastructuring: Forming a knowledge infrastructure for ILTER Network

Academy of Finland project (1/2016 - 7/2018)

PI: Prof. Helena Karasti (University of Oulu)

Project manager: Dr. Tonja Molin-Juustila

Researchers: Dr. Andrea Botero, Dr. Karen BakerDr. Elena Parmiggiani, Dr. Joanna Saad-Sulonen

Contact Information

Helena Karasti (firstname.lastname AT oulu.fi)

Tonja Molin-Juustila (firstname.lastname AT oulu.fi)

Description

Large-scale networked research requires knowledge infrastructures that support scientific collaboration. The aim of this study is to develop new multi-scoped alternatives for the investigation and formation of large-scale research infrastructures, since traditional, short-term and small-scale oriented methods and concepts have become criticized as inadequate.

We empirically investigate the formation of knowledge infrastructure within International Long Term Ecological Research (ILTER) network by focusing on the Finnish Long-Term Socio-Ecological Research (FinLTSER) network and the Norwegian Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER Norway) in their national and European contexts. We also continue to analyze previously collected materials of the Shortgrass Steppe Long-Term Ecological Research (SGS-LTER) site of the US LTER network. Based on these studies (together with our extensive prior experience with LTER networks in the past), we work towards a methodological approach called ‘scoping the field’ and a new conceptual understanding of ‘multi-scoped infrastructuring’.

Our interdisciplinary research combines ethnography, science and technology studies, and those traditions of Information Systems (IS) that have studied information infrastructures and their development, including Participatory Design (PD) and Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW).

Objectives

In contrast to the prevalent short-term and small-scale studies of knowledge infrastructures, we aim to create alternatives for investigating and conceptualizing their formation. We empirically study LTER networks in their multiple, multi-scope, evolving relations. We aim to develop a methodological approach tentatively called ‘scoping the field’ that is sensitive to the extended and complex ontological nature of knowledge infrastructures and new conceptual understanding about the processual notion of ‘multi-scoped infrastructuring’. By applying an interpretive, sociotechnical approach our aim is to provide empirical, substantive, methodological, and theoretical discoveries of knowledge infrastructure formation:

1) To construct a multi-scoped ethnographic object within the ILTER network suitable for the investigation of knowledge infrastructure formation for LTER networks we currently empirically study, that is the Finnish and Norwegian LTER networks in European context;

2) To generate new substantive knowledge about knowledge infrastructure formation;

3) To develop and conceptualize the methodological approach of ‘scoping the field’ for the investigation of large-scale knowledge infrastructures;

4) To advance conceptual and theoretical work on knowledge infrastructures with a particular interest in their formation by developing the notion of ‘multi-scoped infrastructuring’.

Empirical fieldwork (updated March 15 2017)

Methodologically, we draw on ethnography in social sciences, particularly anthropology where the use of ethnography in studying global phenomena and settings has been both critically and innovatively explored, and recent developments in science and technology studies (STS) and related disciplines.

In the absence of feasible approaches, one of our major objectives is to develop a methodological approach tentatively called ‘scoping the field’ that is sensitive to the extended, multi-scoped, and complex ontological nature of large-scale knowledge infrastructures. ‘Scoping the field’ builds on the notion of ‘constructing the field’, and augments the prevalent spatially oriented notions of the field.

Empirical research materials are mainly obtained through ethnographic fieldwork, but also via mixed methods. Participant observation in online and offline settings results in field notes, audio and video recordings, and we also collect documents, logs and survey data. Our research on FinLTSER and research infrastructures in Finland took as starting point the previous involvement by the PI in the initial phases of the FinLTSER network over a period of 10 years. Interviews and collaborative timeline development with a variety of actors involved in the formation of the FinLTSER provided a solid ground for understanding the phenomenon as well as opening up the empirical field of investigation to a wider scope to gain understanding of the research infrastructure landscape in Finland in which FinLTSER network is embedded.

Another stream of empirical research focuses on the case of LTER Norway. Norway has joined the LTER network relatively recently. Through interviews and qualitative observations, we study the gradual formation of a network of environmental monitoring sites according to the requirements of LTER, how various research institutions are involved in this initiative, and the role of the authorities. Two streams are followed at present: first, we are investigating the institutional and political factors influencing the maturing of LTER in Norway; second, we seek to develop a better understanding of the way environmental monitoring is conducted in practice today and how environmental data are managed and curated.

Publications

Peer-reviewed scientific articles

--- 2016 ---

Karasti, Helena, Florence Millerand, Christine M. Hine and Geoffrey C. Bowker (2016) Knowledge Infrastructures: Part IV. Science & Technology Studies, Vol. 29, Issue 4, pp. 2-9.

Karasti, Helena, Florence Millerand, Christine M. Hine and Geoffrey C. Bowker (2016) Knowledge Infrastructures: Part III. Science & Technology Studies, Vol. 29, Issue 3, pp. 2-9.

Karasti, Helena, Florence Millerand, Christine M. Hine and Geoffrey C. Bowker (2016) Knowledge Infrastructures: Part II. Science & Technology Studies, Vol. 29, Issue 2, pp. 2-6.

Karasti, Helena, Florence Millerand, Christine M. Hine and Geoffrey C. Bowker (2016) Knowledge Infrastructures: Part I. Science & Technology Studies, Vol. 29, Issue 1, pp. 2-12.

Parmiggiani, Elena and Eric Monteiro (2016) A measure of ‘environmental happiness’: Infrastructuring environmental risk in oil and gas offshore operations. Science & Technology Studies., Vol. 29, Issue 1, pp. 30-51.

--- 2017 ---

Pipek, Volkmar, Helena Karasti & Geoffrey C. Bowker (2017) A preface to ‘Infrastructuring and Collaborative Design’. Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW): The Journal of Collaborative Computing and Work Practices, Vol. 25, Issues 1-2, pp. 1-5.

Parmiggiani, Elena (2017) This is not a fish: On the Scale and Politics of Infrastructure Design Studies. Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW): The Journal of Collaborative Computing and Work Practices, Vol. 25, Issues 1-2, pp. 205-243.

Karasti, Helena and Jeanette Blomberg (2018) Studying infrastructuring ethnographically. Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW): The Journal of Collaborative Computing and Work Practices, Vol. 26, Issue X (First Online: ).

In progress:

Parmiggiani, Elena and Eric Monteiro (2017) Digitized Coral Reefs. To appear in: The digitalSTS Handbook, J. Vertesi, et al. (Eds.).

Special Issues

--- 2016 ---

Karasti, Helena, Florence Millerand, Christine M. Hine and Geoffrey C. Bowker (2016) Knowledge Infrastructures: Science & Technology Studies, Vol. 29, Issue 1.

Karasti, Helena, Florence Millerand, Christine M. Hine and Geoffrey C. Bowker (2016) Knowledge Infrastructures: Science & Technology Studies, Vol. 29, Issue 2.

Karasti, Helena, Florence Millerand, Christine M. Hine and Geoffrey C. Bowker (2016) Knowledge Infrastructures: Science & Technology Studies, Vol. 29, Issue 3.

Karasti, Helena, Florence Millerand, Christine M. Hine and Geoffrey C. Bowker (2016) Knowledge Infrastructures: Science & Technology Studies, Vol. 29, Issue 4.

--- 2017 ---

Pipek, Volkmar, Helena Karasti and Geoffrey C. Bowker (2017) Infrastructuring and Collaborative Design. Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW): The Journal of Collaborative Computing and Work Practices, Vol. 25, Issues 1-2.

In progress:

Bowker, Geoffrey C., Helena Karasti and Volkmar Pipek (2018) Infrastructuring and Collaborative Design. Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW): The Journal of Collaborative Computing and Work Practices, Vol. 26, Issue X.